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Racing Great – Food Sucks

A punter appraises his Charity Mile day experience at Turffontein

I decided after an absence of ten years to visit Turffontein on Saturday to support Charity Mile Day. It had been a while since I last attended a live race meeting, so was inquisitive to see the changes over time – good or bad – writes James Darmody in the SP Mailbag.

It was very hot and I parked and grabbed a bottle of water and headed for the stands.

When I arrived at the security gate, I was stopped by the security guard and was told that I was not allowed to take my water in. After trying to explain that it was only water – a human right , the security guard was having none of it and insisted I leave the bottle at the gate.

Not one to enjoy confrontation, I agreed and left the bottle with him and entered the course. Not a good start for me, before I had even had my first bet!

After the first, I decided to find something to eat on the ground floor food -court. I found four food kiosks  and after a look at the menus, and not really being a Chip or Kota man (Bunny Chips and Bread or Bunny Chow ), I decided a toasted cheese would be a better choice.

While waiting for my toasted sandwich, I watched as it was been made. The kiosk was untidy, dirty and would fail any health inspection in my opinion – so I started to get concerned about my own health. Taking it with long fingers, I ordered a water and went back to my seat. The sandwich was not bad , but I could not get from where it came from out of my head, so gave it a miss just in case.

On to the feature races, it was enjoyable to see the parade ring full. However I did not recongnize too many Owners . There seemed to be a rent a crowd  – but after a while I realised that they were mostly It’s A Rush invited guests being shown around . Many were greeted with an It’s A Rush umbrella to protect them from the hot sun. Many photos taken with a pose here and a pose there – all trying to get a shot with the jockeys and trainers . The trainers and jockeys obliged with dignity and were great ambassadors.

Turffontein

After the last race and some great racing, I returned to my car . When driving home I summarized my day. Besides making a few rand on my bets, I left feeling that racing has definitely  changed since I last attended. It still seems to be a very elite experience. If you are not an invited guest sitting in one of the air conditioned rooms , then it is tough to really enjoy the day as an Average Joe.

The food on offer was way below par, the tote facilities had not changed much over time and there was no free wi-fi available –  although there were secured points, but passwords were required. The toilet facilities were suffice – however should that toasted cheese have kicked in, I would have been in serious trouble!

I doubt any of the powers that be have ever bothered to check on the Average Joe and how they are doing – but rather looked after the big spenders that would never return – unless they were invited.

There is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to looking after the Public.

Usain Bolt – not a bad choice

We can bring god to the races. Although Mr Bolt is not a bad choice, celebrities that will not improve crowd attendance unless we  have a serious look at the small things .

My ratings: Race Course – 6/10; Food 2/10; Horse Performance – 9/10 .

Will I be back soon? I am not sure – there is nothing like the comfort of my lounge .

Ed – a copy has been sent to Phumelela and the Racing Association. If a response is received, it will be published.



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5 comments on “Racing Great – Food Sucks”

  1. Interesting story but honestly will the RA or PHUMELELA ever do anything for the general public I don’t think so,they only concerned about the big spenders……I rather enjoy telly track from the comfort of my home with a few beers and a good braai on the big days cause if you just the ordinary punter there’s nothing for you on the race course…….

    1. Things have got progressively worse!! As an owner that loves the game, the Management hosting the EVENT is poor and needs to catch a wake up. They trying to get more people racing, why not look after the guys that are currently racing??

      1. Well said Mr Leahy – The bottom line is that they do not care to much about anyone except themselves, their families and the It’s A Rush crowd , the rest of the world do not matter although you will get thanked for attending when speeches are done by Mr Wainstein .

        We have all heard his famous speech “Yous Peoples ” doesn’t that just say everything .

  2. I agree 100% with with James D. I have not been to the races for the past 7/8 years for exactly the reason he is complaining about. The Kiosk, which has been at the race course for the past 50 years supplying cigarettes, cool drinks and crisps is still in the same place selling the same everyday essentials. I only buy crisps and a coke at the race course. In the years gone by we would have sandwiches with tea and coffee (fresh) in the dinning rooms downstairs and also a very good curry at the Java room. Good braais on the verandah. Bookmakers use to make the race course interesting. To go to the races was fun now just boring. Sorry but nothing for the stalwart punter.. Who wants to climb stairs all day. Racing is happening downstairs at the paddock and at the winning post. Otherwise why go tro the races. You came to see the horses, those beautiful animals, the jockeys (with there antics) and Owners and Trainers. That is where the vibe is and the enjoyment but that what racing lacks. No interest in what you really came for!!! I really and truely miss the “old days” at the racecourse on a Saturday afternoon. Vivian

  3. Experience the same when security let’s “certain people in” with their food and not water. Guy walking in with water on a hot day should be let in. The next time I arrive on course I want to prove to security the different standards they choose on different people. I will also take some pictures and post.

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